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Kandariya Mahadeva Temple | History, Architecture, Facts of Kadariya Mahadeva

Engross in the Magnificent Nagara Architectural Structures at Kandariya Mahadeva Temple

There are a few magnificent structures that still take away the breath of anyone. The Kandariya Mahadeva temple, which is located in the Khajuraho village in the Chhatarpur district in Madhya Pradesh is one among them. The architectural beauty of the temple resembles to any excellent expressions of Renaissance or Gothic architecture, which makes this most important Khajuraho monument rank one among the majestic examples of religious art in Asia.

Known for the Nagara-style architecture, the Kandariya Mahadeva mandir is not only the largest Hindu temple but also the most ornate one in the country. A richly sculpted temple, Kandariya Mahadeva temple is a UNESCO World Heritage site best preserved from the medieval period.

Kandariya Mahadeva Temple

Kandariya Mahadeva Temple | Image Resource : upload.wikimedia.org

Fascinating History of Legendary Kandariya Mahadeva Temple

When it comes to the temples in Khajuraho, most of them were built between 950 and 1050 CE during the Chandela dynasty. The Kandariya Mahadeva temple, which is the largest Shaiva shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva was built during the period 1017 – 1029 CE by Vidyadhara, who was the successor of King Ganda. Lord Shiva who is believed to be the Supreme God is also called Mahadeva.

This temple of Kandariya Mahadeva was built to celebrate Vidyadhara’s victory over Mahmud of Ghazni. He dedicated it to his family deity God Shiva. You can find the epigraphic inscriptions on the pillar of the mandapa, which mentions ‘Virimda’, the pseudonym of Vidyadhara.

Most of the temples in Khajuraho were ransacked by Sultan Qutb-ud-din Aibak. Some of them were desacralized, while some others were left to be ruined. It was in the 1830s that T S Burt, a British surveyor, who discovered the temples for the world to know and take care of them.

Stupefying Architectural Structure of Kandariya Mahadeva Temple

Situated 117-foot above the ground level, the Kandariya Mahadeva temple was constructed to occupy an area of 6500 square feet. Facing east, it is positioned on a raised platform, which is called ‘adhishsthana’. You can reach the platform climbing the steep steps. As for architecture, you can find an assembly of towers and porches, which close out in a spire called shikhara.

There are a series of chambers interconnecting each other and while entering you walk in the following sequence. There is a rectangular entrance hall, called ardhamandapa, from where through steps you can reach the central pillared hall, ‘mandapa’. The central hall leads you to garbhagrha, which houses the divine Shivalinga in marble. Above the garbhagrha, there is the main tower and spire.

With 31 meters long, 20 meters wide and 31 meters high, the Kandariya Mahadeva temple is characteristically built to look the grandest in Khajuraho. If you observe it carefully, you can see that the temple has a five-part design layout. A torana at the entrance showcases the intricate craftsmanship of the period on the single-stone sculptures. The highlights of the carvings on the stone of tactile quality represents the symmetrical design found everywhere, including the ‘high-relief carvings’ of sculptures. Intricately chiseled sharp inscribed lines exhibit splendid dark-light patterns, as well as strong angular forms, a semblance of the high quality of ornamentation.

The architecture and the decorative art found everywhere is deliberately symbolic. You can find that they represent a standard pattern of Hindu iconography, which include the depictions of “kama, artha, dharma and moksa”, essential pursuits of life.

The temple’s exterior structure is positioned on the massive plinth, which shows that its construction is dexterously planned and nicely detailed. The shape of the mountain is a symbolic representation of Mount Kailash. There are 84 small spires surrounding the main tower. Made of sandstone, the temple has the stones connected using mortise and tenon joints. The megaliths that form columns and architraves are huge and weighing about 20 tons.

There are several images of gods and goddesses adorning the walls of the temple. One of the prominent gods found is Agni, the God of fire. Visitors can spend a good time watching the sensuous figurines positioned at various places in the Kandariya Mahadeva temple. Most of the sculptures are exquisitely carved and they are of male and female flanking each other. The other significant sculptures are that of Saptamatrikas, which include mother goddesses and gods Ganesh and Virabhadra.

Get to Know Some Facts about Kandariya Mahadeva Temple

This prime temple in Khajuraho is known for the following facts.

  • Khajuraho is the name derived from ‘khaujur’, which is a Hindi word for ‘date’. You can find the date palms adorning the city walls. The city was called ‘Khajjurpura’ in the ancient times.

  • The Kandariya Mahadeva temple, like the other temples in Khajuraho, is built using sandstone and has different shades of pink, yellow and buff.

  • There are only a few sculptures, especially in the temple, that showcase sensual ones; otherwise, most of the sculptures are that of people from different walks of life.

  • The temple is ranked by the Archaeological Survey of India as the well-preserved monument.

  • The rooms in the Kandariya Mahadeva temple are connected with each other along the east-west line. There is an entrance, a hall, a sanctum and a hallway in each room.

  • The images at the temple represents the different manifestations of the God Shiva and Goddess Shakti.

  • Built in the medieval period, the temple was re-discovered only in the 20th century, from when it is preserved.

  • The temple is still known for the architectural brilliance, which is unparalleled.

Some of the Famous Festivals held at Kandariya Mahadeva Temple

There are a very few festivals that are celebrated grandly at the temple of Kandariya Mahadeva. The Khajuraho Dance Festival is one of them. Conducted by the Madhya Pradesh Kala Parishad, this festival is held in February from the 20th to 26th. Various types of classical dances, such as Kathak, Odissi, Kuchipudi, Bharatanatyam, Manipuri, and Kathakali are performed by the leading exponents in the field. You can find these art forms performed in the open-air auditorium near the temple.

The other festival that is celebrated in length is Maha Shivaratri. Devotees from places across the country visit the Kandariya Mahadeva temple and offer prayers to Lord Shiva. They perform certain rituals like ‘vrat’ one day before the Shivaratri. The temple conducts several events all through the day and night to help the devotees fast for the whole day.

The festivals like Diwali, Holi and Dussera are also celebrated here.

Get to Know the Kandariya Temple Timings

You can find the temple open on any day of the week. The temple opens at 5.00 a.m. and closes at 12.00 p.m. In the evening, it again opens at 4.00 p.m. and closes at 9.00 p.m. There is an entry fee of Rs.10 for Indians, while a foreigner has to pay Rs.250 to enter the temple. There is no entry fee for children below 15 years.
Where you want to make any offerings to the deity, you can do so in the form of dry fruits and sweets. The temple offers prasad to the visitors at 12 p.m.

How to Reach Kandariya Mahadeva Temple?

The Kandariya Mahadeva temple offers easy accessibility via road, rail and air. You have the cities or towns, such as Jhansi, Satna, Katni, Orchha, Panna, Bandhavgarh, and Chattarpur connected to Khajuraho. It is 175 kilometers away from Jhansi, 43 kilometers away from Panna, 47 kilometers away from Chattarpur and 55 kilometers away from Mahoba. Where you are traveling from Bandhavgarh, you can connect the temple by road through Katni-Pawai-Amanganj-Panna, which takes approximately five hours to travel about 240 kilometers.

The Khajuraho railway station is the nearest station and it lies just 9 kilometers away. There are several trains connecting Khajuraho with other major cities. The Bundelkhand Link Express is the one that connects Varanasi with Khajuraho. You can have your itinerary planned in such a way to include both the cities. The cities such as Mumbai and Kolkata have trains connecting the Satna Railway station, from where you can travel to Khajuraho by rail or road.

There is the Khajuraho airport that is located at the distance of about 9 kilometers. Devotees from major cities fly to the Khajuraho city to get the blessings of Lord Shiva.

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